Friend or foe: the media’s power to inform and shape societal attitudes towards people with acquired brain injury

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Media representations play an integral role in modern society, informing the public about a range of issues affecting their communities. Using qualitative content analysis, this article reports on the study of a sample of Australian media coverage, spanning 30 years, covering issues associated with acquired brain injury (ABI) and related cognitive disabilities. The analysis explores how the media both portray and actively shape public perceptions about people living with ABI, the lived experience of the condition, and its broader social implications. The authors identify a range of themes arising in the sample that communicate specific ideas about ABI, disability, and deviance. Importantly, they identify how these themes are able to either construct or reinforce dominant understandings of disability and deviance through both their content and structure.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)932-953
Number of pages22
JournalDisability and Society
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Acquired brain injury
  • criminal justice
  • deviance
  • disability
  • media
  • qualitative content analysis
  • traumatic brain injury

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